The GFWA had their Mid Term!
CEPF’s current five-year investment in the Guinean Forests of West Africa Biodiversity Hotspot has passed the halfway point. Since 2016, more than 40 grants totaling US$5.7 million have been awarded.
To evaluate the progress made so far and determine priorities for the time remaining, 34 CEPF grantees from eight countries came together—along with CEPF staff and regional implementation team members—in Monrovia, Liberia, for a three-day workshop.
The primary focus of the workshop was the concept of “mainstreaming” biodiversity conservation into public policies and the private sector, an important part of CEPF’s current strategy for the hotspot, but one which has proved challenging to implement.
“Few mainstreaming-related proposals were submitted during the first two years and not many projects are reaching these sectors,” said RIT Team Leader Mariana Carvalho. “Mainstreaming is fundamental for the sustainability of the conservation work of the CSOs locally and regionally, so we decided to focus this event on available biodiversity mainstreaming tools and on how to better support civil society in incorporating it into their work.”
As part of this effort, a concurrent two-day workshop was held with stakeholders, including representatives from the government, donors, and mining and forestry commodities’ sectors. Grantees had the opportunity to meet with these stakeholders to discuss how they can better work together.
Edem Eniang, whose CEPF project worked to protect Nigeria’s threatened tortoises, described his previous struggles to incorporate mainstreaming this way: “It’s like somebody wanting to travel to a location and then instead of going north, they start traveling south, southeast, turning around. You lose time and energy because you didn’t know the direction. [Through this workshop], I found the direction.”
Beyond mainstreaming, meeting and interacting with one another, as well as CEPF and RIT staff members, was one of the biggest benefits of the workshop for many grantees.
“It really builds a different kind of relationship than if we only had emails and formal procedures,” said Missouri Botanical Garden’s Ehoarn Bidault, who is working to strengthen knowledge of the hotspot’s threatened plant species. “It’s very important for us to be able to meet people, to be able to put faces to names.”
For Martina Pansini, who is helping protect São Tomé Island’s giant snails, the workshop was a reminder that her efforts are part of a bigger conservation strategy.
“We are so focused in the field, especially in the islands—we are so isolated—on our objective. It’s really a relief to understand that there are people who are monitoring us, who know what we are doing, who know where we are going and know what all of us really have to get, all together, for the strategy of these five years,” she said.
Members of CEPF’s donor institutions also attended the event, including Tiphaine Leménager from the l’Agence Française de Développement.
She said one of the reasons she participated in the workshop was “to better understand the challenges CEPF grantees are facing, so we can also better see how to support them in these challenges.”
Regarding mainstreaming, grantees cited lack of staff expertise, inadequate or inconsistent funding, lack of political will, and stakeholder involvement issues as some of their biggest challenges. During the workshop, each grantee had the opportunity to develop their own action plan to address these obstacles and bolster their mainstreaming efforts.
CEPF expects to have an open call for proposals for mainstreaming-focused projects soon.
Using feedback from the workshop, the regional implementation team is also working to design an overarching mainstreaming strategy that will contribute to the long-term vision of the hotspot.
Thank you to everyone who gave their time and expertise to make the workshop a success!
- By CEPF
CEPF is a joint initiative of l’Agence Française de Développement, Conservation International, the European Union, the Global Environment Facility, the Government of Japan, and the World Bank.